I’ve started this story about a dozen times. This ending. And, each time, I save the words I’ve written (never throw away your words), then close them, and then open up a new blank screen to start again. And I’ve begun to worry a bit that this story just won’t come out. That I won’t be able to capture this moment. This ending.
Which is scary. Because capturing moments is what I do. Finding the thread of emotion amongst fragments of time and pulling it down into words on a screen is my thing. It’s what I went through this ending to do. And here I am, searching for the thread and not finding it. Or finding too many.
Maybe because that’s what this ending is. Many threads and none at all, all at the same time.
This ending is the end of seven-year-long era. The end of my time at the agency that became my home, a place so familiar and comfortable and that, for so long, fit so well. A place where people who were once strangers to me, strangers who seemed far too incredibly cool and talented and smart to include me in their ranks, hugged me goodbye and proclaimed the utmost confidence in me as I walked by their desks on my last day.
I’m historically bad at endings. I want to savor the moment, the lasts of everything – the last drive, the last moment at my desk, the last ride in the elevator. But usually I get flustered or self conscious. Not wanting to let anyone see me react, feeling silly for the emotion I’m carrying around, I tuck it all away and walk cooly with my head held high.
This time was different. Somehow, the place where I felt I needed to be so much cooler than I was became the place that allowed me to just be me. Emotion and all, all out there.
This time, I savored each last. This time, I spent a day curling up in the sadness of it. Partly because the sadness of the ending was (always is) more comfortable than the uncertain excitement of the new beginning. But partly because it felt right. It felt like the thing I needed to do. And in seven years, I’ve learned to do the things I need to do. And I’ve learned to surround myself with the people who will support me as I do the thing I need to do.
A person goes through a lot of growth in seven years. Over seven years, our babies transform from tiny little humans that can fit within our own bodies to walking, talking, bike-riding, reading, running, jumping people. And though we don’t think the same happens as we move into adulthood, it does. We grow and we keep changing. And the movement can astonish.
I’m a wildly different person now than I was the first day I walked into that agency, seven years ago. I’m older. I’m a mother. Of two. I have more grey hairs but also more hills and mountains behind me that I’ve climbed and conquered. I have more successes, and more failures, and more moments. I know myself better now and that is a powerful thing.
Look back seven years into your own past. I know you’ll find much of the same.
It can be scary to leave the place where you’ve grown, the place that changed you. I’m scared to leave this place. Because I associate the me I am today with the place that helped me get here and so I spent some time mourning that person. The person who dug in to become a great project manager. The person who earned respect and admiration. The person who found her way into the soft spots of people’s hearts.
Thankfully a friend pointed out that I should not mourn. Because that person is not gone. I’m taking her with me.
The moments and people and places and things that you are so sad to leave because they’ve all come together to make you who you are? You take them with you. Every one of them. You couldn’t actually leave them if you tried. They are a part of you.
On my last day, I wrote to my friends and colleagues, who are still friends and colleagues just with different business cards, and I thanked them for everything that had shared with me and given to me. I told them I was taking it all with me. And I am. Through this ending. Into my next beginning.
Which is good. Because I’m really going to need it all there.